Arizona’s infamous immigration law commonly known as SB1070 is now before the US Supreme Court awaiting adjudication. Arguments were heard earlier this week by attorneys presenting their cases for and against the law. The Arizona law has been a hot issue since its passage. It authorizes police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop for any reason and arrest them for being in the country illegally if they are found to be so. The US Justice Dept argues that the law is an attempt by Arizona to do the job of US Border Patrol. Arizona says it’s just trying to enforce the immigration laws that federal officials won’t enforce. So the law is now in the Supreme Court awaiting a decision by the court on its constitutionality and amid all the controversy LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today published a commentary on the issue which you can read for yourself at the below source.
The mayor begins his commentary by noting that the “American experience is an immigrant experience.” It certainly is as our nation is a nation of primarily immigrants with the only native citizens being Native Americans. As the mayor points out immigrants have come to this country since its founding searching for freedom and opportunity.
Mayor Villaraigosa points out that the Arizona law along with other similar laws passed in the states of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Utah are well outside the mainstream of immigration politics because they are essentially “self-deportation” laws and policies. The mayor says what such policies and laws mean is “making life so miserable” for illegal migrants that they leave by their own choice and free will. He notes that such policies use fear and the “threat of force” to remove them from the US and “hound them out of the country.” The mayor calls such policies and laws unrealistic, “unwise and cruel.” He states that there is not one single problem our nation faces today by which deporting millions of illegal immigrants is going to solve any of the problems we face. He notes that such state laws usually fail and they don’t reduce illegal immigration but only result in migrants moving to other states without such laws and “further into the shadows.”
The mayor calls laws such as Arizona’s SB1070 “show me your papers laws.” Sounds like something leftover from Nazi Germany or the old Soviet Union in which citizens and visitors alike had to show their identification papers upon demand of the Gestapo or secret Soviet Police. The mayor says these laws undermine the civil rights of millions of Americans who have lived and worked in the US for decades now. Further, he points out that such laws abandon the very foundations of our legal system of “innocent until proven guilty.” Sadly that seems to be the going trend today across the board and not only with illegal migrants. More and more it seems this historical and traditional value of Americana is being replaced by an attitude of “guilty until proven innocent.” That’s the same attitude held in any Bananera Republica worth its la sal (salt). In Banana Republic dictatorships everyone is assumed to be automatically guilty of whatever they are accused of and when (or IF) they are lucky enough to get a trial they must prove their innocence. That’s a far cry from what has historically been America as in this country the burden of proof of guilt has been on the prosecution not the accused. So with this seemingly new and growing attitude of “guilty until proven innocent” does that signify that we now live in Bananera Republica called America?
The mayor also points out that such laws encourage racial hatred and discrimination based “solely on how [people] look or how they speak.” He states further that any law that encourages discrimination is “flat-out wrong” and that such laws do not reflect who we are as a nation. The mayor then goes on to point out the fact that across this country police chiefs and mayors have opposed laws like SB1070 because they undermine the “core mission of public safety” by taking law enforcement resources away from serious crimes and forcing police to arrest people who really pose no threat at all to the community. Further, he adds, such laws foster a “culture of suspicion and fear” making it less likely for people to report any crime.
The mayor supports the notion that our immigration system is broken and is in need of being fixed. He states that laws like SB1070 are NOT the answer but are part of the overall problem as they make matters worse not better. He says we need a federal solution to fix immigration not state solutions.
I agree that we need a federal solution to the problem and I don’t support these “show me your papers” laws some states are now passing. For one thing they have that old Nazi attitude and that should frighten every American legal or illegal. Such laws are normally part of police states and the assumption that one is guilty of anything before being proven innocent is clearly in the realm of the police state. Is that what our nation has become? A police state in which everyone and anyone is suspect? I hope not! Further, what is to prevent police from abusing their powers under such laws like SB1070? What is you are stopped for speeding, you are white skinned, you have no speech accent, yet the officer demands you show him your papers to prove you are a citizen just to push or upset you? What then? I think we all know that SOME police WILL abuse such powers if for no other reason that to be assholes! And what if you can’t prove your citizenship? Where do you get deported to?
Economic times are hard in this country right now and everywhere else and sadly discrimination and racism tend to grow in such times as people look for scapegoats. That’s not fair and it certainly is not right. That being said, we need to SERIOUSLY fix our broken immigration system in this country no doubt. However, there are things that almost must be done in Mexico and Latin America to aid in fixing the problems too. People in Latin American countries are for the most part extremely poor because there are no jobs and no futures for them. There’s no way they can get ahead and have better lives in those countries because such opportunities do not exist. This problem must be addressed and resolved as well IF we really are going to fix the whole problem.
I watched a documentary a few days ago on one of the news channels about the death trains in Latin America and was shocked to say the least. Many people from Central America risk their lives and climb aboard moving trains in an effort to get to the US-Mexico border. These people include Latin Americans of all ages and both males and females. I was shocked by the number of children and young men and women who had missing arms because they’d lost them trying to previously jump on these freight trains. The trains were absolutely packed too. People were in the box cars, on top of the box cars, and riding on the tops and sides of tanker cars! It’s nothing short of a mass exodus and nothing short of a refugee problem either. Many Latin American nations have oppressive governments in addition to no economic opportunity or jobs. If we are going to seriously reform our immigration problem in the US then we are going to have to address these problems as well. Somehow we are going to have to force Latin American governments to change and create economic opportunities in Latin American countries so people can start having a better life in their own countries. Passing laws like SB1070 do not even begin to resolve those problems. If Latin Americans could get jobs and better lives in their own countries then there would be no reason for them to come to the US.
One of the biggest problems in Latin American countries is corruption. This is yet another problem that must be resolved if we are serious about doing something about the US immigration problem. Aide money never reaches the people but most often goes into government pockets never to see the light of day! What Latin America needs is more democratic government and economic growth not oppression and corruption.
People may think policies like SB1070 are the cure-all for illegal immigration but they are not, clearly. Such laws and policies only tend to make matters worse, not better, as the LA mayor points out. Further, such laws encourage racism and discrimination and in a nation built by primarily immigrants that can’t possibly be a good thing any way you look at it. Now is not the time for division but for unity among the American people. I guarantee you that if you lived in some Latin American countries you’d be trying to get out and come to America too. Those who have been in those countries know how bad some of them are. Those who sit in their armchairs playing judge and jury have no clue! No matter who they are or where they live or come from people want better lives for themselves and for their families. Most people will do whatever they must do to make that happen. Further, most people desire freedom! I don’t really know anyone who loves tyranny and oppression do you? America is a beacon for betterment and freedom so I really cannot blame these people for wanting to come to our country. The immigration issue is not a black and white clear-cut issue. It is a complex issue and to resolve it is going to require complex answers, changes, and actions on the part of all countries involved. Laws like SB1070 do not even come near doing that and, in fact, they only make the entire problem worse! I hope the Supreme Court strikes down this law because if they don’t then it only opens wider the dark and evil doors of HATE! I really don’t think we need anymore hate in this country right now. We seem to have plenty of that!